Public Interest Law Organizations and the Two-Tier System of Access to Justice in the United States

Catherine Albiston, Su Li, Laura Beth Nielsen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations

Abstract

Public interest law organizations (PILOs) are important institutions for providing access to justice in the United States. How have political, economic, and institutional factors shaped PILOs? How do PILOs vary in the services they offer and in their geographical location relative to poverty and population in the United States? This article investigates these questions by combining original survey data from a representative sample of public interest law organizations with GIS data on population and poverty. We find that the presence of a PILO is positively related to political progressiveness and population at the county level, but negatively related to the concentration of poverty. Our analysis reveals a two-tier system of public interest representation in which national organizations engage in a variety of social change strategies, whereas local and regional organizations utilize more limited strategies and depend more on governmental funding. These patterns have implications for access to justice in the United States today.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)990-1022
Number of pages33
JournalLaw and Social Inquiry
Volume42
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Sep 1 2017

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Sciences(all)
  • Law

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